Comprehensive Faculty Development: An Innovative Approach in Online Education

Comprehensive Faculty Development: An Innovative Approach in Online Education

Desiree' Caldwell (Gwynedd Mercy University, USA), Mary Sortino (Gwynedd Mercy University, USA), Jill Winnington (Gwynedd Mercy University, USA) and Tiffany J. Cresswell-Yeager (Gwynedd Mercy University, USA)
DOI: 10.4018/978-1-7998-0115-3.ch003

Abstract

There is a significant need for faculty development and support as it relates to online teaching. Researchers assert that the success of online education may be a direct result of the training and support of the institution's faculty. Higher education institutions implement a variety of online faculty development practices; however, little is known about which practices are seen as the most effective and efficient. In this chapter, the authors propose a strategic approach to building a comprehensive faculty development program that supports and engages online faculty from initial hire and beyond. The purpose of this chapter is to provide new insights to support faculty. The authors identify evidence-based strategies to incorporate adjunct and full-time online faculty into the university community. In addition, the authors share their experiences developing a comprehensive faculty development plan.
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Introduction

Researchers assert that the success of online education may be a direct result of the training and support of the institution’s faculty (Vaill & Testori, 2012). It has been asserted that supporting online instructors is paramount to developing high quality experiences for online teaching (Baran & Correia, 2014; Rhode, Richter, & Miller, 2017). This support empowers and challenges instructors to create transformative learning experiences (Mezirow, 1997). Professional development is a central factor leading to student success (O’Hara & Pritchard, 2012). Well-trained and supported faculty transfer their skills into the online classroom resulting in an improved student experience.

Professional development opportunities should include a variety of components including technology, pedagogy, mentoring/peer support, targeted modules for skill-set deficits, and disciple-based opportunities of scholarship (Baran & Correia, 2014; Scarpena et al., 2018; Schmit et al., 2016). The need for faculty members to engage in and complete training along their own time schedule, have access to archived live sessions, and be able to repeat trainings if necessary is of utmost importance (Scarpena, Riley, & Keathley, 2018). Because faculty have specific expectations and desires when it comes to professional development, it is important for institutions to assess the needs of faculty to develop an effective professional development plan (Mohr & Shelton, 2017). Administrators should seek to have faculty members self-identify weaknesses in skills important to online teaching and then provide the development opportunities needed to help faculty grow in those targeted areas (Rhode et al., 2017).

Chapter Objectives

  • Examine current research related to strategies for online faculty development.

  • Explore a strategic approach to building a comprehensive faculty development program which supports and engages online faculty from initial hire and beyond.

Key Terms in this Chapter

Evidence-Based Strategies: Strategies proven through research and application to be effective.

Online Engagement: Interaction and connection of faculty and students within the online learning community.

Faculty Development: Training and support of faculty to improve teaching in an effort to improve student success and student learning.

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